Good Germs | Bad Germs, an interdisciplinary project pioneering the use of 'participatory metagenomics' to study geographies of the domestic microbiome, has been launched at the University of Oxford with funding from the UK's Economic and Social Research Council.
The project is pioneering participatory methods that take scientific tools out of the laboratory and into peoples' kitchens, to enable people to design their own explorations of the microbial communities living alongside them.
Project leader Dr Jamie Lorimer said,
"There is more life in your kitchen than you might have thought - and it's no bad thing!
'"How about a kitchen safari?’ What’s lurking in the sink? What’s stopping the bugs from spreading? What germs do you share with your children, or even with your dog?"
Initially the project team are developing a user-friendly set of tools and techniques that will enable people to map the microbial life in their kitchens. In the spring of 2016, they aim to work with a local community group on a year-long study using these new participatory methods for microbial mapping. The aim is to investigate how people understand the microbiome and notions of 'hygiene', and the implications for domestic practices of mapping microbial life.